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Symbol and Allegory

By | March 2005
Page 1 of 2
The use of symbol in poetry and in literature as a whole is commonplace because it is an outlet for the author's creative psyche. A symbol is a creative use of metaphor, using a comparison but not just a direct comparison. The author attempts to achieve the effect that there is much more than just the reader's initial reaction creating a want to delve deeper into the true meaning, leaving a vast space of interpretation. Allegory on the other hand is a specific comparison, a symbol that is set in its meaning. This would point towards the absolute meaning of the comparison the poet or author was trying to convey (in other words, a parallel). I have chosen the E.E. Cummings poem "l(a" because it not only encompasses the idea of symbolism through its need for interpretation, but also due to its simple beauty, creating a visual image of a leaf falling. Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in his family's home, within an extremely short distance of Harvard (Dreams 9). His word usage and literary abilities were garnered at a young age from his parents. His father Edward was a professor (in fact, the first professor of sociology at Harvard) and a Unitarian minister and his mother Rebecca utilized reading poetry and stories to her children. His father's strong voice and use of wordplay from his sermons and his mother's encouragement for E.E. to keep a diary starting at age five started to shape his craft at an early age (Revisited 11). Rebecca aspired for her son to be the next Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (the Cummings family lived across the street from the Longfellow home before E.E. was born) (Dreams 19). Edward Estlin was also a cubist painter in addition to being a poet. During World War I, E.E. Cummings was an ambulance driver in France and was imprisoned under the pretense of treason (Poets.Org). The experience led to one his more important works, The Enormous Room. Around the time of writing "l(a" E.E....

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